Streaky windshields, old Buicks and a Toyota ready to rumble

Q. I have a problem with my 2015 Toyota Avalon that I bought used earlier this year.  The problem is the windshield and the wipers.  When it rains and I use the wipers-on the first swipe to the left there is an awful film on the window – when the wiper goes back to the right it clears a little and then the process starts all over again.  It is a problem all the time, but it is worse driving at night.  It is so bad that I dread driving when it is raining out.  Before using the wipers, I can see fine. The dealer who I bought the car from has replaced the wipers twice, cleaned the windshield and even took a razor blade and steel wool to the window with no relief.  They are now telling me there is nothing they can do and say that this is just the way this car is.  As a side note, I had a 2005 Avalon that I turned in when I purchased this car and never had this problem.  We have owned five Toyota Avalons with no problem, and my husband is currently driving a 2016 and does not have this problem.  I was wondering if there are any recalls on this vehicle or can you come up with a solution.  I am considering turning this car in as I feel it is a safety issue.

A. Even though the dealer cleaned the windshield with a razor blade, there could still be some kind of coating on the windshield. I would start by cleaning the windshield with alcohol and then a good window cleaner and finish cleaning with a clean micro-fiber cloth. Readers have also me that they have had good luck cleaning a windshield with glass-top stove cleaner. Before I considered trading the car in and losing money I would replace the windshield to see if that remedies the problem.

Q. I have a 2007 Buick Lucerne with 104,000 miles on it. We have owned this car since it was new and have been the only drivers – I myself have been the only driver for the past 3 years (my husband is now unable to drive). We are both 80 years old so the car has not been abused. In a routine checkup when I took it for an inspection sticker at the Buick dealer they told me the car needs some work. The service man said it should have a new engine mount ($340) and a new strut for one of the wheels ($333) – says it is leaking. Is it normal for an engine mount to need to be replaced? How urgent are these problems?

A. At nearly 11 years old almost anything could need replacing. The engine motor mount has been a common issue on this model causing a drifting to one side under hard acceleration. As a general rule struts-when they wear, will cause a handling and ride issue but in day-to-day driving are more of a comfort issue than a safety concern. I would consider getting a second opinion from another shop to see how worn their components are.

Q. I recently purchased a 2002 Toyota Solara convertible with 90,000 miles on it. The car is in great shape except for a four to five-second rumble like sound. The sound only happens when the car sits for eight hours or so. The rumble comes to an abrupt stop and doesn’t happen again till it sits for about the same time period. The noise doesn’t sound like an engine noise. The noise is more like something that opens and abruptly closes. Initially, my mechanic said could be a valve not receiving oil for a short period but then after inspection said not the problem. Almost sounds like something rumbling and then immediately stops. We did have the muffler and all pipes checked, and they were fine. One mechanic said it could be a flap on the manifold that is closed when cold and then opens. Other mechanics don’t know about this manifold flap. What do you think?

A. One of the shops was on the right track; the intake manifold has a baffle that can make noise. You can fix it but it is a fairly expensive repair to cure a noise. Over the years Toyota has been aware of the issue, but it doesn’t cause any drivability of engine longevity issues. If you are being a bit frugal this is a noise you could live with.

John Paul is AAA’s Car Doctor. He is an automotive expert who has been writing and talking about cars for more than 30 years. He also hosts the Car Doctor radio program on WROL radio in Boston. Email John at jpaul [at]



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